Good Friday morning!
Razor-thin margins continue to separate President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada — as vote counting continues without a decisive victory for either candidate.
Trump reportedly intends to act like he is already beginning his second term in office, as his campaign continues to file lawsuits challenging results in battleground states.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) slammed her progressive colleagues during a leaked Democratic caucus call yesterday (audio available here), blaming them for promoting policies that cost them several House seats.
In a statement yesterday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations urged unity and respect “in the wake of particularly hard-fought and divisive elections.”
According to a report in Reuters, the State Department has officially notified Congress that it plans to sell 18 armed MQ-9B drones to the United Arab Emirates.
Check out Jewish Insider’s ‘Jewish Nielsen’ report to see which webcasts people tuned into over the past week.
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Raphael Warnock signed letter likening West Bank to apartheid South Africa
Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic Senate candidate who advanced to a January runoff in Georgia’s hotly contested special election, signed his name last year to a statement likening Israeli control of the West Bank to “previous oppressive regimes” such as “apartheid South Africa,” reports Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel.
Details: The statement, published on the website of the National Council of Churches, also suggests that “ever-present physical walls that wall in Palestinians” are “reminiscent of the Berlin Wall.” The letter was signed by several Christian faith leaders who traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territories in late February and early March 2019 as part of a joint delegation including representatives of “historic black denominations of the National Council of Churches” as well as “heads of South African church denominations of the South African Council of Churches.”
Military aid: The Progressive National Baptist Convention also released the same statement but included additional resolutions, one of which calls on the United States to end military aid to the Jewish state “and to work in cooperation with the United Nations to demand,” among other things, that Israel “cease the building of new, or expansion of existing, illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints and apartheid roads in the occupied Palestinian territories.” In the National Council of Churches statement, the faith leaders did not go so far as to call for an end to military aid, but expressed hope for “an end of weapons sales and proliferation to all sides in the conflict and, indeed, to the entire region.”
‘Religious pilgrimage’: Describing their trip as a “religious pilgrimage,” the faith leaders’ statement said they traveled to the Middle East “in the hope of meeting Israeli and Palestinian citizens” and to “better understand the realities on the ground, particularly related to the Occupied Palestinian territories” including East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “We came as people with a shared history of racial segregation, victims of injustice, people who have been dehumanized and marginalized,” the statement reads. “We came as people who stand against racism, against antisemitism, against Islamophobia.”
What they saw: On their trip, the religious leaders visited Yad Vashem, held a Bible study session with a rabbi and toured Palestinian communities and a refugee camp. “We saw the patterns that seem to have been borrowed and perfected from other previous oppressive regimes,” the statement said, citing the “ever-present physical walls that wall in Palestinians in a political wall reminiscent of the Berlin Wall” and a “heavy militarization of the West Bank, reminiscent of the military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa.” The faith leaders returned from their trip “with heavy hearts” and “a forlorn sense” that the conflict would continue for many generations if appropriate action is not taken. “We are shocked,” the statement said, “at what appears to be an unstoppable gobbling up of Palestinian lands to almost render the proposed two-state solution unworkable.”
Warnock’s response: “Reverend Warnock has deep respect for the invaluable relationship the United States has with Israel and how Georgia continues to benefit from that friendship,” Terrence Clark, a spokesman for Warnock’s campaign, said in a statement to Jewish Insider. “The reservations he has expressed about settlement activity do not change his strong support for Israel and belief in its security — which is exactly why he opposes ending direct military aid to such a strong ally. Reverend Warnock is proud to be a part of interfaith communities that model respect and work to seek unity instead of division, he believes people of faith working together is essential to making progress on the issues important to our families, from access to affordable health care to creating a peaceful and secure world.”
Pro-Israel advocates say new congressional makeup bodes well for bipartisanship
While Democratic and Republican lawmakers remain deeply divided on many key issues, pro-Israel advocates expressed optimism that the results of this week’s House and Senate elections largely bode well for bipartisanship on at least one matter: support for the Jewish state. “It is clear from the outcome of the races so far that the elected and reelected senators and representatives from both parties will be joining an overwhelmingly pro-Israel Congress,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel last night. “Despite the current profound political polarization, there remains a resolute bipartisan commitment to the U.S.-Israel alliance.”
Inter-party support: Jeff Mendelsohn, executive director of Pro-Israel America, a grassroots organization that has endorsed both Democrats and Republicans, agreed with that assessment. “As ballots are counted and election results are finalized, one thing remains clear: the U.S.-Israel relationship continues to have strong and deep support in both parties,” Mendelsohn said in an email to JI, citing victories by “emerging pro-Israel champions” like Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), committee leaders such as Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and “long-time champions” including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
Poor Democratic showing: The three representatives faced stiff competition from challengers in opposing parties, as did several other first-term Democratic incumbents considered strong supporters of Israel who appear to have lost their bids for reelection on Tuesday, including New York representatives Max Rose and Anthony Brindisi. According to Joel Rubin, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, the Democrats who prevailed on Tuesday were, in large part, House members with national security backgrounds who made the argument that they could work in a bipartisan manner.
Staying positive: Despite the losses, Mark Mellman, president and CEO of Democratic Majority for Israel, was encouraged by what he viewed as a strong number of pro-Israel representatives heading to Congress next year. “Would I have rather expanded the Democratic majority?” he told JI in a phone interview. “Of course I would have, but from a pro-Israel point of view, we’re going to have a Democratic caucus that’s very supportive of Israel, and we’re going to continue to have Republicans who are very supportive of Israel. So in that respect, we’ll see bipartisanship continue.”
Democratic caucus: Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, added her belief that, even with some setbacks, the Democratic caucus was in a strong position with regard to Israel. “There’s overwhelming support of Israel,” she said, “starting with our leadership on down, including many freshman members who were just reelected.” She added: “When it comes to the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship, this election will be very good for Israel.”
Checking in with two new GOP congresswomen who flipped their districts
At a press conference Thursday evening, President Donald Trump called 2020 “the year of the Republican woman” — alluding to the series of wins scored this week by female candidates who ousted Democratic incumbents across the country. Jewish Insider’s Marc Rod spoke to Nancy Mace, who beat Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC) in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district, and Michelle Fischbach, who bested longtime Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) in Minnesota’s conservative 7th district.
Diversifying the party: Mace suggested to JI that if the Republican Party wants to be successful in future races, party leaders should recruit a diverse slate of “fresh voices and fresh faces,” adding: “We’ve got to be looking for folks that are diverse. Our conservative policies are compassionate policies, and we need to find candidates who can articulate that message in a way that resonates with voters on both sides of the aisle. And Republicans for years now have done a poor job of that.” Mace — the first Republican woman ever elected to Congress from South Carolina — emphasized that the election was a landmark one for women in her party. “It’s not just Democrat women who are breaking glass ceilings. Republican women are doing it and we’re doing it in big numbers this year,” she said. “We just basically doubled the number of Republican women that will be in the House. That’s huge for us and I’m just honored to be a part of that history making.” Read the full interview here.
Ground Game: Fischbach told JI that she was able to oust Peterson, a 30-year incumbent, by building a robust campaign organization, nearly matching him in fundraising and successfully tying him to left-wing forces in his party. “For many years he had weaker opponents with less money,” Fischbach said. “He was supporting Nancy Pelosi, he was voting for her and moving that socialist agenda along that they were pushing. The biggest effect of our campaign is we had the money to make sure we got that message out.” Fischbach emphasized that the Republican Party should continue to recruit female candidates, after the election delivered the GOP its highest-ever number of female legislators. “I think that women are able to make sure that they get that message out,” she said. “When a strong woman shares a message, I think that’s important.” Read the full interview here.
Bonus: Former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who represented Florida’s 27th congressional district and whose successor, Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), lost her reelection bid to Republican María Elvira Salazar Tuesday night, told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh: “María Elvira stunned the political elites with her win over an incumbent who was predicted by the press to be a sure bet. Maria Elvira stuck to the basic needs of her district and her message carried her to victory. Always listen to the voters.”
🗳️ Keep Counting: James Baker, who led the effort to halt the Florida recount in 2000, toldThe New York Times’s Peter Baker — who wrote a recent book about the Washington veteran — yesterday that the current legal challenges to this election are very different: “I think it’s pretty hard to be against counting the votes.” [NYTimes]
👵🏼 Never Again: Batsheva Dagan, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor living in Israel, answered 10 questions posed by Vice’s Thembi Wolf about her experiences in concentration camps and after the war. “Sometimes, in my dreams, I feel like I am back there. But I made it out. I’m still alive.” [Vice]
Around the Web
👴 Playing Tough: Aides to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have indicated a GOP-controlled Senate will seek to force Joe Biden to pick centrist cabinet members, favoring Tony Blinken over Susan Rice as secretary of state.
☑️ Taking Credit: Emgage Action, a Muslim civic advocacy organization, claimed that high Muslim-American voter turnout helped flip Michigan for Biden.
🤳 Shut Down: Former White House advisor Steve Bannon was suspended from Twitter and his video was pulled from YouTube after he called for Dr. Anthony Fauci’s head to be displayed “on a pike” outside the White House.
📋 Naming Names: A federal judge ruled yesterday that the Small Business Administration must release the names and amounts of all Paycheck Protection Program loans.
🇪🇺 Tough Talk: Austria and France will push for EU-wide measures to combat Islamist extremism after recent terrorist attacks in both countries.
⚖️ Seeking Justice: The Anti-Defamation League is offering a reward for information about the vandalism of headstones at the Ahavas Israel Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
👨💻 Online Hate: An NYPD officer responsible for combatting workplace harassment is under investigation for racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic comments he allegedly made anonymously online.
📺 Censured:A London-based Islamic TV network was fined £20,000 by the U.K.’s broadcasting watchdog for airing comments claiming that Jews have “an evil mind.”
🧑🍳 Bad Taste: Deutsche Welle chronicles the story of a Jewish chef whose popular 1930s cookbook was stolen by the Nazi regime and republished under a different name.
👩 New Hire:Former HBO chairman Richard Plepler’s Eden Productions hired “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” co-producer Ashley Underwood as a development executive.
Wine of the Week
JI’s wine columnist Yitz Applbaum reviews the Yatir Creek 2017:
The kosher wine world has expanded exponentially in recent years. I have been writing this column for over four years and just when I think there might not be any more great wines to review, another wonderful batch comes out. This week I’m reviewing the Yatir Creek 2017, a wine that demonstrates both superb taste and an accessible price point.
The Yatir Creek 2017 is a rather edgy wine, a word I find myself increasingly using when describing Israeli wines. It is a blend of 75% Syrah, 12% Tannat, a great south American grape and 12 percent Malbec. This wine is not for the meek as the Malbec and Tannat grapes battle with the Syrah. The mid-palate fruit taste acts as a bridge between the rough and tumble up front tannin and the stunning burgundy finish. Other noticeable flavors include black cherry and cigar leaf tannins. Open this wine six months from now and it will be perfectly ready for you to savor alongside some bbq.
Former president and CEO of American Jewish World Service, she also served as Manhattan borough president, Ruth Messinger turns 80…
FRIDAY: Belgian theoretical physicist, a Holocaust survivor and 2013 Nobel prize laureate, François Englert turns 88… Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Andrew Saul turns 74… Former Clinton advisor, Sidney Blumenthal turns 72… Research scientist at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, Barbara Volsky turns 70… Chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell, Joseph C. Shenker turns 64… Actress and cellist best known for her lead role in the 1984 film “Footloose” and the television series “Fame,” Lori Singer… and her twin brother, founder and music director of the Manhattan Symphonie, Gregory Singer both turn 63… Managing director of the NFL Players Association, Ira Fishman turns 63… Author and founder of Nourish Snack, Joy Bauer turns 57… COO at Santander Bank, Andrew S. Weinberg turns 57… Managing director and SVP of investments in the Brentwood, TN and Beverly Hills, Calif., offices of Raymond James, Seth A. Radow turns 57… Former vice chairman and CEO of Genie Oil E&P, he is a partner in Covenant Winery, Geoffrey Rochwarger turns 50… Executive at Elliott Management and author of Start-up Nation, Dan Senor turns 49… Program director for Jewish life at the William Davidson Foundation, Kari Alterman turns 48… Film producer together with her husband Robert Downey Jr., Susan Nicole Levin Downey turns 47… South Florida entrepreneur, Earl J. Campos-Devine turns 40… Head cantor of Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City, Yaakov Lemmer turns 37… …
SATURDAY: Neuropsychiatrist, a 1944 graduate of Yeshiva of Flatbush and 2000 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, Eric Kandel turns 91… Former United States senator from Minnesota (1978-1991), Rudy Boschwitz turns 90… Stage, screen and television actor, Barry Newman turns 82… MIT professor in electrical engineering and computer science, Barbara Liskov turns 81… Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, he was a governor of the Federal Reserve System (2002-2010), Donald Kohn turns 78… University professor of the humanities at Harvard and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Stephen Greenblatt turns 77… Senior partner in the West Los Angeles law firm of Selvin & Weiner, Beryl Weiner turns 77… Constituent affairs representative and community liaison for Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY-13), Laurie Tobias Cohen turns 64… Canadian entrepreneur and CEO of luxury apparel company Canada Goose, Dani Reiss turns 47… Managing director of global public affairs at Blackstone, Jennifer B. Friedman turns 40… Founder at The Intercollegiate, Daniel Libit turns 38… Ph.D. candidate at the Yale University Department of Nursing, Avi Zenilman turns 36… Campaign reporter at Politico, Elena Schneider turns 30… Founder and CEO at Swipe Out Hunger, a college campus based non-profit that allows students to donate their remaining meal points to those in need, Rachel Sumekh turns 29… Founder and CEO of Count Me In, a global youth empowerment organization, Shane Feldman turns 26… Co-founder and CEO at NYX Technologies, Tomer Aharonovitch…
SUNDAY: Former United States attorney for New Jersey (1971-1973), then a U.S. District Court Judge (1973-1987), now a criminal defense attorney, Herbert Jay Stern turns 84… Actress, comedian and writer, she played the recurring role of Doris Klompus on “Seinfeld,” her solo theatre shows include “Yenta Unplugged” and “The Yenta Cometh,” Annie Korzen turns 82… CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ira C. Magaziner turns 73… Senior managing director and head of global government affairs for Blackstone, Wayne Berman turns 64… Former president of the board of directors at Jewish Community High School of the Bay (San Francisco Bay Area), Michael Sosebee turns 64… Financial consultant at Retirement Benefits Consulting, Michelle Silverstein turns 63… Israel’s minister of education and member of Knesset for the Likud party, Yoav Galant turns 62… Cedarhurst resident and Manhattan attorney, Charles “Chesky” Wertman turns 58… Principal at Lore Strategies, Laurie Moskowitz turns 56… Past president of University Women at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Allison Gingold turns 52… Popular Israeli female vocalist in the Mizrahi music genre, Zehava Ben turns 52… Sports journalist for ESPN Deportes, born in Ashkelon, David Moshé Faitelson turns 52… Founder of Ayecha, Yavilah McCoy turns 48… Congregational rabbi in Paris and co-leader of the Liberal Jewish Movement of France, Delphine Horvilleur turns 46… Jewish history department chair at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Aaron Bregman… Executive MBA candidate at USC’s Marshall School of Business, Alana Weiner… Allan Waxman…